A talented playmaker, Willie Marshall was known as a dangerous sniper during his 20 seasons in the American Hockey League, in which time he became the most prolific scorer in league history.
Born Dec. 1, 1931, in Kirkland Lake, Ont., Marshall made his AHL debut with the Pittsburgh Hornets in 1952-53, scoring 27 goals and dishing out 39 assists for 66 points in 62 games and leading the Hornets to the Calder Cup Final. It would be the first of 13 seasons in which Marshall would lead his AHL team in scoring.
Marshall soon became a model of consistency, topping the 20-goal mark in each of his first 12 years in the American Hockey League. In 1954-55, he saw action in 16 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but still managed to register 48 points in 46 contests in Pittsburgh, then lead the Hornets to a Calder Cup championship.
Following the 1955-56 season, in which Marshall was named a First Team AHL All-Star, Duquesne Gardens was torn down and the Hornets were forced into dormancy; Marshall was sold to the Detroit Red Wings and landed with the Hershey Bears. After finishing second in the AHL scoring race in 1956 and 1957, Marshall won his first – and only – league scoring title in 1957-58, putting up 104 points in the regular season and 19 more in the playoffs as the Bears captured the Calder Cup.
A trade back to the Maple Leafs brought Marshall to a brief stint in Rochester, but he was loaned back to Hershey and helped the Bears to another championship in 1959, Marshall’s third Calder Cup win in five years. He continued to average better than a point per game with Hershey, and in 1962 earned a nod as a Second Team AHL All-Star after registering 95 points in 70 games, including a career-best 65 assists.
Marshall joined the Providence Reds in 1963 for three seasons, then moved on to the Baltimore Clippers for five (1966-71). He returned to Rochester to finish up the 1971-72 season, his record-tying 20th in the AHL, and retired as the league’s all-time leader in games played (1,205), goals (523), assists (852) and points (1,375), as well as hat tricks (25) and Calder Cup Playoff assists (71) and points (119).
Marshall still ranks fifth on the Hershey Bears’ franchise scoring list with 570 points in 439 games in Chocolatetown, and his number 16 has been retired by the club.
In 2004, the American Hockey League honored Marshall at the All-Star Classic in Grand Rapids and unveiled the Willie Marshall Award, which is now presented annually to the AHL player who scores the most goals each season.
|Career AHL Statistics – Willie Marshall|